Collapsing bridge in Canada derails freight train

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Associated Press

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 27 at 4:07 PM

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — A train has derailed on a collapsing Canada bridge near Calgary, threatening to send five rail cars carrying a diesel-like substance into a river, officials said Thursday.

Efforts were under way to keep the cars from falling off the slowly sagging bridge and then pump out the yet-unspecified but potentially flammable liquid. No injuries were reported.

"It appears that the bridge is failing," said emergency management director Bruce Burrell. The train derailed after a section of the bridge dropped two feet (60 centimeters) Thursday morning.

Each car could have 80,000 pounds (36,000 kilograms) of flammable product, said acting Fire Chief Ken Uzeloc. He could not specify the liquid. A sixth car on the bridge is an empty oil tanker, he said.

Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said the bridge gave way after most of the eastbound train had crossed.

"The (derailed cars) are all upright," he said. "There are no leaks reported and no injuries reported as a result of the incident."

The bridge, southeast of downtown Calgary, typically sits about 25 feet (7.6 meters) above water level, though water levels remain high after last week's flooding.

Emergency crews were working to string a cable through the railcars to secure it to bulldozers on land to prevent the cars from being carried down the river in case the bridge gives way.

Uzeloc said crews then hope to pull another train along a parallel bridge so the cargo can be pumped off and the empty cars can be removed with a crane.

"The last thing we want is these cars floating down the river and causing problems downstream," Uzeloc said.

Booms were being deployed down river in case of any spills.

Canadian Pacific said the bridge was inspected by a qualified inspector on Saturday and the track was inspected on Monday.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi questioned the timing of the last bridge inspection when water on the river was still at record levels.

Nenshi said he knows a lot of railway employees have been laid off, and he was angry that it took him six hours to reach Canadian Pacific officials on Thursday.

"How many bridge inspectors did they fire?" the mayor asked.

Officials said it was too early to say whether the structural failure was specifically due to flooding.

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